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Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a software fiend and a fan of the new, shiny and intriguing. Never afraid to get his hands dirty with some full-scale geekery, he’s always trying out the latest apps, hacks and tweaks. He can be found on Twitter and Google+.

Windows 8 has been with us for a good few months now. From consumer previews to the released products, there has been much venting of spleen over the changes made by Microsoft. But after initially hating Windows 8, I started to love it. Genuinely.

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There are numerous applications which, when launched, result in a UAC (User Account Control) warning being displayed. There are reasons why this security measure is a good idea, but it can also be extremely irritating. ElevatedShortcut lets you create shortcuts that bypass the warning.

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Printing documents is easy enough – fire up the appropriate app, load the file and hit Print. But when it comes to Android, you probably find that you email or copy files from your phone or tablet so you can print from your PC. Things are a great deal easier if you turn to Cloud Print.

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There can be few computer users who do not have at least one social networking account – the likes of Facebook and Twitter are just so prevalent these days. But while it’s easy to sign up for an account, closing one down is not always so simple. Until now.

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Install an app from Google Play and, while the installer takes the form of an APK files, you’re never given the opportunity to download the file directly. Using the APK Downloader extension for Chrome, you can download any APK you need so you have it as a backup.

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Automation is great. Anything that can be done to reduce the amount of effort needed to achieve a goal is to be welcomed with open arms. We have looked at various tools that can be used to automate tasks you might carry out on a regular basis, including using Wappwolf to automate cloud storage and using IFTTT to automate backups.  Now we’ll show how IFTTT can be used in conjunction with Yahoo Pipes to create custom news feeds and alerts.

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How much of your life is recorded online? Spend a moment considering this and it’s likely to be a terrifying idea. You may not consider yourself the type of person to keep a journal, or even a blog, but over the years you have probably posted thousands of words on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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There are numerous modern apps that are a built into Windows 8 and they are featured prominently on the Start screen. It may well be the case that you don’t want to use them because they just aren’t apps you’re interested in, or it may be that you have found a better alternative.

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The Growl notification system is something that will be familiar to Mac users, but it is something that is also available for Windows. It is an incredibly versatile tool that can be used to monitor system and program notifications in a variety of ways, including remotely.

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There are lots of tools that can be used to automate various tasks on your computer, and we have looked at how the likes of Wappwolf and IFTTT can help to automate your online life. AutomateIt brings very much the same idea to Android, making it possible to automate your phone or tablet in a variety of ways.

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If you’ve bought a PC with Windows 8 installed, you may be surprised to find that there is not quite as much storage space available as you would expect based on the size of your hard drive. This could be for a couple of reasons, including a Windows recovery image occupying several gigabytes.

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Cloud storage is now so commonplace that there are not many people that do not take advantage of storing files online. There are a huge number of services to choose from, including Google Drive and Dropbox, and Cloudy is a free extension for Chrome that makes it possible to attach cloud-based files to emails.

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The Windows 8 Start screen. It’s a very divisive feature of the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, and the widespread dislike for the way it looks and works is demonstrated by the staggering number of tools for tweaking it that sprang up almost immediately. If you’re not happy with the way the Start screen works, there are plenty of ways you can customize it, and here we take a look at some of the best tools.

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If you are running Windows 8, hit the Windows key and L at the same time. What do you see? It should be the lock screen complete with the date, time and weather. What format do the date and time take? It’s almost certainly the same as the clock in your taskbar – if you have opted to use 24 hour clock format, it will be used in both places. But this doesn’t have to be the case; customization is possible.

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Launchers. They’re not exactly in short supply in Google Play. While there are many to choose from, each with a slightly different approach to things, they all tend to work in the same general way. The same cannot be said of Trigger, which makes it possible to put your device’s touchscreen to the best possible use by using gestures to launch apps, access settings and more.

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There are a number of ways you can tweak Windows, whether you are looking to improve performance, iron out irritations, improve security or change the appearance of something you dislike. Some settings can be changed through the Control Panel, some by using a third party tweaking tool, or you may prefer to dabble in a little registry editing. But if you have the Professional version of Windows 8 there is also Group Policy Editor and here we have rounded up ten top tweaks you can apply in this way.

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Whatever platform you look at – iOS, OS X, Android, Windows, Linux – there is some form of software store available. Android users have been able to enjoy Google Play (under various guises) for some time, and Apple’s App Store is well known even outside of tech circles. Microsoft was a little slow to join the party, but Windows 8’s Store means everyone is now on the same page. But is the store that’s built into Windows 8 the best option?

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Printing out web pages you want a hard copy of can be a little hit and miss. Unlike other documents, it is not easy to tell exactly how many pieces of paper will be needed, and whether or not there will be any awkward clipping. Add to this the problem of wasting ink by printing out unwanted images and ads, and it is little wonder that many people resort to copying and pasting into a word processor. But by using browser add-ons and bookmarklets, you can gain control over what you are printing.

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We could all do with some extra screen space from time to time. It can be a battle to manage all of the windows you have open at any one time. Having a second monitor is not something that everyone is able to do, be it in terms of space or finances, but if you are packing a tablet you already have your second screen ready to go.

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Backing up our PCs is something we are all used to. It’s not something many people relish, but once an automated task has been set up, it is something that can be forgotten about until your suffer from hard drive failure or another disaster and need to think about restoring files. But things are not quite so easy when it comes to Android.

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Chrome has built up quite a loyal following over the years, but while it is an adept web browser it does suffer from problems when it comes to tab management. It does not take long for Chrome’s memory usage to creep up as you load up more and more tabs, and start times can be extremely slow. Using the The Great Suspender extension you can get things back under control.

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Wireless internet connections are far more prevalent than they used to be, but there are still times when you may find that you are stuck using a wired connection and want to use it wirelessly — for instance, at a hotel with only wired internet but you want to get your tablet online.

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We recently looked at how you can make it easier to manage multiple inboxes in Gmail using the Multiple Inboxes Lab feature. This is a non-standard feature and it’s far from being the only one available to you. In fact there are numerous hidden features that can help you to get more from Gmail.

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If you have upgraded to Office 2013, or Office 365, you may have run into problems opening files that have been emailed to you. Try to open a Word file you have received as an email attachment and you are likely to find that Word not only refuses to open the files, but fails to provide much in the way of help.

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There are plenty of things you can do with your online storage accounts. They can be used for fairly everyday things such as backing up your data, syncing files between computers or sharing files with other people. But by turning to Wappwolf you can make your cloud storage work for you, interacting with other online accounts you may have.

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